A Brief and Completely Factual History of CATSPAW By A Famous Rock Historian Expanded DVD Version Updated September 1999
In the summer of '97 Jasmine called a slightly deaf operator at the Village Voice to place a classified ad. Her requested ad: "Drummer/bassist needed for folk-rock/country-rock/rockabilly band" was published as: "Plumber needed to repair Alien Spaceship. Must have hands." She soon met up with Erica, a senior at the Bronx Vocational School for Plumbing and Forensic Science, and Suzanne, who had three years experience unclogging drains for NASA. Using their spaceship repair revenues to pay for rehearsal space and musical equipment, they formed the rockabilly/classic-rock/country-rock/new wave/early baroque band CATSPAW. Later, when money ran short, they shortened their genre type to rock 'n roll, to save paper.
Erica, the group's only natural blonde, has often been described as the Bronx's loudest female drummer. Erica is descended from a long line of musical talent; her mother, Pam, was lead electric tambourine for the '70s disco/hindi/power-pop trio Rare Gold, in which her father played drums and tabla. Erica was also briefly married to Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich in the mid '90s.
Jasmine rose to semi-obscurity in the '90s Village folk scene with protest songs like "I Am a Woman and I Am Really Really Angry About Something". She played the Back Fence and the Sun Mountain, and once opened for the lesbian folk-rock/disco/grunge quintet, the Spice Womyn, at the Bottom Line. Jasmine decided to start a band, because she was not taken seriously on the folk scene, due to her fake leopard skin coat, her addiction to non-organic Diet Coke and her acoustic version of "Twenty Flight Rock".
Suzanne, a woman of no fixed hair color, studied bass with Tom, the famed leader of Ff. An accomplished accordionist, before joining CATSPAW, Suzanne performed in the punk/new-wave/polka band Neurotic Blond Implications. The tallest and best-dressed member of Catspaw, Suzanne once went on a highly successful tour of Europe, but forgot to bring the rest of the band.
CATSPAW scheduled their first recording session for RAW studios. Built by music engineer/A&Rrep/entrepreneur/rugged outdoorsman Jean Christophe, RAW studios is a rustic log structure on the outskirts of the Alaskan wilderness, to which many bands have dragged their equipment on skis and snowshoes, to take advantage of the very reasonable rates and (relatively) short commute from Manhattan. Unfortunately, CATSPAW tried to travel to the studio in Erica's van, took a wrong turn and ended up in a strip mall in Alberta.
And so their first recording was made in the Electronics section of a Nobody Beats the Wiz outlet. Sam, their Nobody Beats the Wiz Sales Associate, did an excellent job of capturing the band's unique sound, from the chronically frustrated yet upbeat original "Let Me Tell You All About My Lover" to their Alternative Lifestyle cover of "Fishnet Stockings".
Catspaw burst on to the live Manhattan scene in February of 1998 with a breakthrough performance at CBGB's, during which Suzanne's amplifier exploded, and Jasmine fell off the stage, breaking her left toe. Three sound guys were killed in the resulting melee, although Catspaw bravely finished the set, using some surgical tape to rewire Suzanne's bass through Erica's cell phone.
The band went on to play Downtime, the heart of Manhattan's Jazz-Pop-Fusion scene, where they were greeted with unstinting confusion. In the spring of '98 Catspaw also played the Elbow Room, Luna Lounge, The Spiral and of course Waterberries' in the beautiful Northeastern Bronx.
Suzanne, however, had become increasing cause for worry. Never completely happy in the band, she had begun to search for spiritual fulfillment through footwear experimentation, and had progressed from the milder sandals and sneakers to the more dangerous and mind-expanding platforms and suede creepers. In July of 1998 Erica and Jasmine returned from a weekend trip to the Payless Shoe Source Outlet to discover that Suzanne had disappeared with virtually no trace, leaving behind only a slightly-used pair of Doc Martins and an illegible doctor's note saying something about "weak ankles"...
Tired and depressed at the loss of their bass player, Erica and Jasmine were drowning their sorrows at a show by the fast-rising rockabilly band The Reach Around Rockin' Rodeo Rebel Playboys at a local bar when they met Amy Prince. Amy had just knocked out a waitress for putting too much lettuce on her Yucatan Chicken Pita and was ready to take on the rest of the bar. Erica, an amateur drinker on her seventh ginger ale of the evening, immediately invited Amy to join the band.
Amy's accomplished left hook and bass playing style derived from years of performing in such groups as the all-female heavy-metal band The Screaming Band of Gringos and the Nancy Sinatra tribute band Size Six and a Half Boots. With Amy on board Catspaw moved on to play numerous shows at CBGB's, Brownies', Meow Mix and Continental in the fall of '98 and spring of '99, all with almost no fatalities. They made two appearances on Ross Byron's Red Roller, a cable access show about crop-rotation farming in iron-rich soil, and received extensive radio airplay on stations in Latvia, Macedonia, Iceland and Northern California. Catspaw seemed on the brink of becoming a household name up and down Kearney Avenue in the north Bronx when tragedy struck yet again. Amy, always hot-tempered and prone to outbursts, spontaneously combusted during a gig at an Honors Society Dinner for the Lower Manhattan Bird Watching Society, after an owl enthusiast asked her to lower the volume on her guitar. Catspaw was once again without a bassist.
After combing the tri-state area for a replacement, Erica and Jasmine eventually found Deb Schuster hiding in the van. Deb had studied bass for three years with Jimmy Greenwood, and like Jasmine came from a folk background, playing in the acoustic duos Average White Girl and Seeks One Bedroom Apartment. Aggressively tan, fit and healthy, Deb lists her interests as cycling, mud wrestling and ancient Egyptian history.
Catspaw is happy to welcome Deb to the band, and as always we will keep you, the listener, updated on upcoming recordings and appearances.
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